December 3, 2008

Marbles campaigners honoured

Posted at 10:47 pm in Acropolis, Elgin Marbles, New Acropolis Museum

Three academics who have helped in the restitution of Parthenon fragments to Greece have been honoured at a ceremony at the New Acropolis Museum.

Athens News Agency

Parthenon Marbles

Culture Minister Mihalis Liapis on Tuesday addressed an event held at the new Acropolis Museum in honour of three academics who have made great contributions to the effort for the return of the Parthenon Marbles currently held at the British Museum in London.

The three are Prof. Tonio Holscher, professor of Classical Archaeology at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, Prof. Louis Godart, advisor to the Italian President for the Conservation of Artistic Patrimony and professor of Mycenean Philology at Federico II University of Naples, and Prof. Antonia Sofikitou, who is chair of the Italian Committee for the Return of the Parthenon Marbles and teaches Modern Greek Literature at the University of Palermo.

Liapis praised the “inestimable contribution” made by the three to Greece’s efforts to bring back the sculptures removed from the frieze of the Parthenon and taken to London by Lord Elgin in the early 19th century, so that they can be reunited with the rest of the world-famous monument.

According to the minister, the three academics were “citizens of the world” and “ambassadors of the ancient Greek spirit”.

Tuesday’s event at the Acropolis Museum also coincided with the return from Sweden of an architectural fragment taken from the Athens Acropolis, which was returned by an ordinary Swedish citizen who had inherited the fragment from her Austrian grandfather, a soldier during the Second World War. It was returned via the Swedish Committee for the Return of the Parthenon Marbles, which the woman originally contacted.

The marble fragment bears wavy carvings, similar to those found on the capitals of ancient columns, and an inscription saying “souvenir from the Athens Acropolis” in the form of modern Greek known as “katharevousa” that was quite widely used in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Its return to Greece will allow it to be studied and properly dated.

During his address, Liapis also announced the results of a UNESCO intergovernmental committee meeting for promoting the return of cultural assets to their country of origin, which decided to adopt a resolution that recognises and underlines the need to return cultural items to their country of origin, especially those considered to be of outstanding global importance.

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